By Steve Thomas Observer Nevis Editor
(Charlestown, Nevis) – The basic terms for agreement on geothermal electricity usage has been reached between the Nevis Island Administration and developer West Indies Power Ltd. has been reached, according to a government press release. In a related development, Premier Joseph Parry said in his Budget Day address that the first geothermal energy production plant is planned to become operational in 2010. No details of the geothermal deal have been released to the public. Negotiations were nearing conclusion and both parties were close to finalizing the Power Purchase Agreement, according to Junior Minister of Communications and Works Hon. Carlisle Powell. “The broad terms have been agreed on and so as a result of that the West Indies Power Limited have indicated to us [NIA] that they are available for the second round of negotiations and they have proposed dates in the middle of December,” he said. The government is not releasing any details of the agreement. The Nevis Government Information Service offered the following explanation for the decision to not disclose any information: “Mr. Powell said though he would have liked to release some of the benefits to the people of Nevis entailed in the Agreement, it would be ill-advised to do so until the negotiations were completed. “”When the news breaks as to what the terms are and what the agreements are and how the people of Nevis will benefit, I am sure that [they] will again applaud this [Nevis Reform Party] government for negotiating skillfully and bringing to [them] benefits not only in terms of cheaper energy but in terms of the added social benefits that we [NIA] will get for [them] in a resource which is Nevisian that will continue to belong to the people of Nevis,” he said.” Although some doubts have been raised about the viability of the geothermal project, Mr. Parry gave it a strong endorsement in his Budget Day address. “The whole world knows that Nevis has a high quality geothermal resource. When this government granted an exploration license to West Indies Power Nevis Ltd there were those who doubted that it could be done. However, Madam President we are pleased to announce that the exploration stage in the geothermal development has been very successful with three exploratory wells at Spring Hill, Upper Jessups, and Hamilton Estate yielding high temperatures and producing steam,” he said. “The project will now shift into the next stage of drilling production wells so that the resources can be harnessed to produce electricity for the people of Nevis and St. Kitts. Subsequently, production will be expanded to supply other islands in the Caribbean.” Mr. Parry and other members of the administration have traveled abroad to see operating geothermal plants. “When we visited Iceland in August 2008 we saw what geothermal did for the people of that country and I have no doubt that it can do the same and even more for this beautiful island. There are many economies in the world that have moved from a low gross domestic product to a high GDP because they built their economy on a reliable energy platform. We can do the same in Nevis,” he said. “We appeal to all the people of Nevis, at home and abroad, to embrace this project because it will bring manifold benefits to all of us. Let us prepare ourselves to take advantage of the educational and business opportunities available in the field of geothermal energy development so that we can enhance our disposable incomes. The first geothermal plant is expected to be completed and commissioned in the year 2010.” The U.S. Department of Energy explains geothermal energy this way: “Heat from the Earth, or geothermal ” Geo (Earth) + thermal (heat) ” energy can be and already is accessed by drilling water or steam wells in a process similar to drilling for oil. Geothermal energy is an enormous, underused heat and power resource that is clean (emits little or no greenhouse gases), reliable (average system availability of 95%), and homegrown (making us less dependent on foreign oil). “Geothermal resources range from shallow ground to hot water and rock several miles below the Earth’s surface, and even farther down to the extremely hot molten rock called magma. Mile-or-more-deep wells can be drilled into underground reservoirs to tap steam and very hot water that can be brought to the surface for use in a variety of applications. “Mile-or-more-deep wells can be drilled into underground reservoirs to tap steam and very hot water that drive turbines that drive electricity generators.” Currently, electricity used on Nevis is produced by generators using diesel fuel. The rising cost of crude oil, which is the base product for diesel, led to the imposition of a fuel surcharge by Nevis Electric Company. However, as the cost of oil has declined, the surcharge has declined. The surcharge is adjusted monthly.
Talks Continue on Geothermal Deal but No Details Released
By Steve Thomas Observer Nevis Editor